MUCH ADO ABOUT LITTLE: New FMLA Interpretation Not as Dramatic as it Seems


The U.S. Department of Labor issued last week an interpretation of the definition of “son or daughter” as it applies to an employee standing in loco parentis to a child under the Family and Medical Leave Act. A person in loco parentis does not necessarily have a biological or legal relationship to a child but, as a matter of fact, acts as the child’s parent. This could include, for example, a step-parent who has not adopted his or her step-child but handles the day-to-day activities as if he or she were the parent.

The DOL interpretation grabbed headlines because it explicitly said that same-sex couples can be eligible for FMLA leave for the birth, adoption, foster placement, or serious health condition of a child if they are acting in loco parentis to that child. Despite the fanfare that this clarification has caused, this part of the DOL’s interpretation has not changed existing law.

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